Chanel rolls into cycling with $12,000 bike and bejewelled bicycle clips

The French fashion house with a German boss is introducing a very retro-looking bicycle in its spring/summer 2008 collection. The CC-inscribed bicycle will have eight gears, Chanel’s signature quilted leather touches and will be available in Chanel boutiques in time for Christmas.

Now headed by Karl Lagerfeld, the House of Chanel was founded by Coco Channel in 1909 and became famous in the 1930s for its sports collections for women.

Lagerfeld likes bikes:

“When I was a child in Germany my parents gave me six bicycles – six bicycles, because I was a very spoilt child, hein? – and none of the other children had any because it was after the war, you know? But I wouldn’t share, no, no, no. But I would instead come to school every day on a different bicycle and the other children would be very jealous.”

As well as a bicycle, the House of Chanel is also to release jewel-encrusted bicycle clips and a rather snazzy ankle bag that doubles as a bicycle clip.

This isn’t the first time the worlds of bicycles and haute couture have mixed. In 2005, there was the Armani range of bikes; Sir Paul Smith loves bikes and bike clobber; and, of course, London bike shop Velorution staged a fashion show in the summer called Prêt à Rouler. Prada even has a range of ‘Bicycle’ shoes (sadly, not SPD-compatible) and, bang up to date, Cynthia Rowley’s Spring 2008 collection included gold bicycle pendants on models riding cruisers.

Can you add to this advice for new cyclists?

The other day a journalist working on a new website for the BBC asked me for five quick tips for new cyclists. Here’s my five. Please add your own list of five top tips, or add one or more to my list. This could develop into a useful little tip sheets for virgin cyclists.

1. Feeling wobbly? Get some cycle training from experts who metaphorically hold your hand as you venture out on to the roads or learn how to tackle mountain bike terrain. Kids who’ve yet to take to two wheels can throw away their stabilisers once parents have read this article.

2. Buy right. Don’t buy a bike from a supermarket, get real advice from bike shops. And visit the shop regularly for bike servicing in order to keep your bike in tip-top shape.

3. Ride with others. Cycling is pleasurable solo but it’s great to chat as you ride along. Join a ride with a local CTC group. These are split into slow and fast rides and newbies always welcome.

4. Don’t just ride for fun. Once you catch the bug you’ll realise you can cycle all over the place. To the shops, to the pub, to work.

5. Buy the strongest lock you can find. Cycling is increasing in popularity so bike theft is on the increase also. Opportunist thieves can break into flimsy bike locks. Pro thieves can break into anything, but a good lock buys you time. When possible, take the bike with you into buildings rather than leaving outside.

CTC’s Cycle Hero comp winners

Drat, I didn’t win CTC’s Cycle Hero video competition. The ‘Supercycle’ video – embedded below – by Karen McGovern was the overall winner.

The category winners were:

Save The Planet = Be a Hero by Stephen Popplestone
Funny = Cheer up Dave! by Sam Wedge (weird, a bike getting sloshed).
Friends & Family = When did you learn to ride your bike by Karl Hallam
Speed & Skill = Back to Biking by Dilys Gartside

Google’s BikerBelle promotes profiling on Google maps

Tasha from Google’s Boulder, Colorado office is BikerBelle and she’s seen here promoting the new profiling feature on Google Maps.

Her profile says:

“I love riding bikes. The hardest decision I have every morning is which bike to ride to the Google Boulder office. Sometimes I feel like riding my 1972 Schwinn Cruiser and some days I feel like my mtn bike and on most days I ride my super-fast-banana-yellow road bike. I’m just happy to be riding to work!”

You can use the new profiling feature to write reviews of businesses, make and store fave maps, and share your interests and opinions with the world.

Hey, and of all the world’s major corporations, is Google the most bike friendly?

Fox News attacks wrong target, as usual

Ultra-convervative US news channel Fox News has headlined a story about paediatric cycling ‘accidents’ thus: Children and Bikes: $200 Million National Health Crisis, Researchers Say.

Crisis? That was a Fox News addition to a blander press release. Naturally, the health researchers behind the report believe the $200 Million could be reduced if only more children wore helmets when cycling. The famous, oft-quoted yet discredited “85 percent less injuries” statistic was wheeled out.

The October 11th press release from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital has been picked up by a number of media outlets. Do such reports make parents force their kids to wear helmets when cycling, or do they scare parents into not allowing their children to cycle at all?

In 2004, the UK Government’s National Cycling Strategy Board released this policy statement on cycle helmets and the promotion of ‘dangerous cycling:

Arguments that appear to disavow the efficacy or utility of cycle helmet wearing, or on the other hand claim it as the major influence in reducing injury to cyclists, are both wide of the mark. In particular, campaigns seeking to present cycling as an inevitably dangerous or hazardous activity, or which suggest that helmet wearing should be made compulsory, risk prejudicing the delivery of those very benefits to health and environment which cycling can deliver: they also serve to confuse the general public about the wider social and economic advantages of cycling. As a result, the NCS Board is anxious that the question of wearing helmets is placed in its proper context.

Perhaps Fox News and other channels could study the stats for deaths and injuries caused by motorised vehicles each year? Societies all over the world accept human road kill as part and parcel of car-centric living. Road deaths rarely make the news unless there’s a multiple pile-up.

During the troubles in Northern Ireland more people were killed each year in road ‘accidents’ than by sectarian violence.

Now, are you sitting comfortably? I’d like to pass on a fantastic short story from ex-Python Terry Jones. This is from ‘Fairy tales and Fantastic Stories’, well worth shelling out for. I’m guilty of breaching copyright if I repeat the full text of Terry Jones’ story so I’ve extracted long excepts instead. You’ll still get the gist of the polemic.


There was once a devil in Hell named Carnifex, who liked to eat small children. Sometimes he would take them alive and crush all the bones in their bodies. Sometimes he would pull their heads off, and sometimes he would hit them so hard that their backs snapped like dry twigs…But one day, Carnifex got out of his bed in Hell to find there was not a single child left. ‘What I need is a regular supply,’ he said to himself. So he went to a country that he knew was ruled by an exceedingly vain king. He found him in his bathroom…and said to him: ‘How would you like to fly?’ ‘Very much indeed,’ said the king, ‘but what do you want in return, Carnifex?’ ‘Oh . . . nothing very much,’ replied Carnifex, ‘and I will enable you to fly as high as you want, as fast as you want, simply by Continue reading “Fox News attacks wrong target, as usual”

Va va voom for Vélib as Paris jams

And it’s not just Paris, the whole of France is today trying to cope with a one-day strike by public transport workers. There are almost no train, bus or metro services. Which means the Vélib city-bike rental service is doing a roaring trade as Parisians commute to work this morning.

The city has clogged with motorised traffic but, naturally, bikes are getting through on time. For many Parisians, today could be there first taste of the JCDecaux-operated bike rental scheme. With just 10,000 bikes, demand will be high, although as the bikes are free to hire for the first 30 minutes it’s likely there will be a fast turnaround as commuters dash to work.

Here’s a video of how the Paris scheme operates:

And here’s a video – called Velib Freeride – which shows the bikes being ridden down steps and in a BMX park. The on-board dynamos look trés chic in the night-time scenes:

Nutter (re)stages play about a bicycle god. (It stars Homer Simpson)

The Bicycle Men is a play written by Mark Nutter and others. It stars Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Homer Simpson, in his UK stage debut. The play runs from 6 November to 2 December at the King’s Head Theatre in London.

The Bicycle Men is about a hapless American tourist who crashes his bicycle and encounters the inhabitants of a sinister French village: think Le League of Gentlemen. Only the god of bicycles can rescue the play’s hero, Steve.

The Bicycle Men was orginally called Le Comedie du Bicyclette and premiered at Charna Halpern’s Los Angeles branch of the ImprovOlympic Theatre in 2003.

Wanna see Homer and family on a bike? Check out this vid of Les Simpsons promo vehicles at this year’s Tour de France:

Bone’s helmet compulsion plan moves forward

The Tory MP for Wellingborough and Secretary of the All-Party Road Traffic Group, got parliamentary airtime today for his 10 minute rule debate on cycle helmet compulsion. Fellow compulsionists – such as non-cyclist Eric Martlew and tandemist Sir George Young – were in the House of Commons to support Bone. Background story on this topic here.

Following lobbying, Bone has reduced the age of compulsion from 17 to 14 years and under because it would be a “nanny state” to force adults to wear helmets when cycling. Naturally, the long ago discredited “85 percent reduction in head injuries” stat was wheeled out again.

Bone said wearing a helmet can effectively reduce the impact of a vehicle collision by the equivalent of 12 miles an hour which can provide the crucial margin between death and concussion. The example he used was a “70 mph juggernaut” crashing into a child.

Bone also said compulsory helmets for children would save the NHS cash. Children also cost the NHS money when they fall on pavements as pedestrians and when involved in car crashes – there are helmets available for both pedestrians and car passengers – but Bone made no mention of helmet compulsion for any group other than cyclists, not even skateboarders, inline skaters or Heely wearers.

Flying in the face of much evidence to the contrary, the MP said cycle helmet compulsion does not deter people from cycling. He cited the examples of Canada and Australia yet in Australia helmet compulsion led to an immediate drop in numbers of cyclists. Even Cochrane researchers – leaders in evidence based medicine – admit that cycling levels may be reduced by helmet enforcement.

The bill will receive its second reading on 19th October, Peter Bone’s birthday.

Want safer streets for cycling? Make cars crashier

The risk thermostat theory – that humans take more risks when they feel safer, think ABS brakes, auto airbags – has been around a long time but is still controversial in some quarters.

The famous quip that motorists would driver safer if their steering wheels contained long spikes may be disputed by some epidemiologists but there’s anecdotal back-up for the concept on a motoring story on today.

Adrian Chapman from the 2CV Club of Great Britain said:

“If you are going to get hit by a lorry in a 2CV, then yes, it is going to hurt. Just not as bad as being on a bike. But as a result, you just drive more safely in a 2CV, you don’t get any of the false security you can get in a big modern car.”

In 2005, Edmund King of the RAC Foundation – who gets around London on his Brompton – said of the spike theory: “Of course, drivers with spikes would slow down, but accidents still happen. The driver with the spike might be very careful indeed, but that would not stop someone else crashing into him.”

Of course, extend the logic and the system works better: it’s not just one car fitted with a spike, it needs to be all cars.

The risk thermostat theory – also known as risk homeostasis or risk compensation – is expounded on at length in the classic and accessible book on the subject, Risk by John Adams.

Adams cites motorcyclists as a good indicator of the theory in action. He asks them to visualise riding in full leathers and helmet, and then he asks them to visualise riding the same journey in shorts, t-shirts and no lids. Guess which scenario sees the motorbikers going slower?

Adams has a blog: he summarises his views on risk compensation thus:

“Trapeze artists with safety nets, rock climbers with ropes, cricketers with pads and helmets all take risks that they would not take without their safety equipment. Motorists with seat belts, the road accident statistics tell us, do likewise.”

Seat-belts don’t save lives? What heresy is this? Read Adams’ views on this hoary old topic for yourself here, and think about this when well-meaning cycle helmet compulsionists cite the efficacy of seat-belt laws as their key argument in forcing all cyclists to wear helmets.

For the record, and as stated here, I’m pro-helmet, anti-compulsion. I also wear a seat-belt when driving. But I don’t scream around city streets in my car, using ABS braking, airbags and crumple zones as reasons to think I’m safe, bugger those outside my exoskeleton.

First pix from London’s Cycle 2007

There are 78 show pix stored here on Google’s Picasa. Same shots have been placed, lo-res, on YouTube here. Subscribe to the podcast to get the hi-res slideshow sent to your iPod or Apple TV or PC. Here’s an excellent 73-second tour of the show, via Yannick ‘YouTube’ Read of the CTC.

Charge fixies and hardtails, plus the ‘distressed’ kitchen, one of the best show booths I’ve ever seen at a bike show. Different to, but rivalling, this year’s Cervelo booth at Interbike.

Condor’s 60th birthday party, featuring Phil Liggett, Disco Stu and Mick Jagger’s road bike.

Fizik’s four sizes/styles of MTB saddles, depending on travel per bike.

Hope’s 24-inch, £2000 kids bike. Some of the CNC’ed parts have been seen at Eurobike and Interbike but this is the first time the bike has been seen in one piece.

Hope’s new LED Vision One battery lamp.

The £10,100 Santana Quad from JD Cycle’s.

The camo kid’s jersey from Polaris.

Transport for London’s new Bespoke cycling products brand, licensed to Fisher Outdoor Leisure. First products are LEDs and Harrington-style classy black jackets, with mudguards to come before Christmas, and lots more in 2008.

Raleigh’s upmarket town bikes (Pioneer Elites), the reissue DBR with the retro splatter paint job and the reissued Raleigh Super Tuff Burner. Only 500 will be made, and all have been booked by dealers already.

More and bigger pix here.